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Northland 2022 voter guide

Find out more about candidates for St. Louis County, U.S. Congress and Minnesota House and Senate, and more.

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A voter submits his ballot into the machine in Duluth.
File / Duluth News Tribune
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St. Louis County Sheriff (nonpartisan)

Jason Lukovsky
Jason Lukovsky
Jason Lukovsky

I am a lifelong resident of St. Louis County, graduating from Duluth Denfeld and UMD. My wife and our two teenage children live in Fredenberg Township. I have worked in or supervised every division of the Sheriff’s Office during my 24 years there. I am currently undersheriff, meaning second in command.

Gordon Ramsay
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Gordon Ramsay

I was raised in Duluth and graduated from UMD, St. Scholastica and the FBI Academy. I’ve been married to my best friend for 25 years and we have two great kids, ages 12 and 15. I have served as a police officer for almost 30 years and have gained unmatched experience; public safety is my passion.

Crime prevention

Lukovsky: The Sheriff’s Office works tirelessly to identify and problem-solve to reduce and prevent crime. As sheriff, we will be at the forefront of leveraging public safety partnerships and collaborative efforts, establishing new and innovative programming and utilizing technology to increase our effectiveness. I am committed to keeping St. Louis County families safe.

Ramsay: Crime prevention is at the heart of who I am as a law enforcement leader. Effective crime prevention policies and practices improve communities and lower costs for everyone. During my tenure as police chief in Duluth we reduced shootings, robberies, burglaries and auto thefts to record levels going back many decades.

Transparency

Lukovsky: We’ve built trust and solid relationships over the years, due to being open, honest and accessible to citizens. Body-worn cameras and drones are two examples of recent technology advancements I helped the Sheriff’s Office implement in an effort to be even more transparent, keeping staff and citizens safer.

Ramsay: Transparency in law enforcement is good government. As a police chief for 16 years, I have created two civilian review boards, been an early adopter of body cameras at multiple police agencies, involved residents in policy development, implemented crime mapping and opened up arrest and ticket data. As sheriff, I will continue to focus on transparency.

Addiction and mental health

Lukovsky: The opioid/heroin epidemic is a major issue. As Sheriff, we will continue to support the Lake Superior Violent Offender Task Force, the medication-assisted treatment program at the county jail and building on collaborations with community partners. We need many strategies for addressing this urgent health and safety crisis.

Ramsay: We overly rely on the criminal justice system to address addiction and mental health. Jails have become the mental health institutions of the past. For decades I've partnered with other entities to decouple law enforcement and the criminal justice system from areas that we are not the best entities to address.

Recruiting and retention

Lukovsky: Recruitment and retention of staff is a concern among all divisions of the Sheriff’s Office. With diminishing applicant pools, we need to be competitive and creative with compensation packages. I will work with collective bargaining units, county commissioners and the county administrator to ensure our staff has competitive wages and benefits.

Ramsay: The Sheriff’s Office is facing critically low applicant numbers, high employee turnover, and forced overtime creating employee burnout. At my last agency we doubled applicant numbers in four years and improved retention. A strategic recruiting, retention and wellness plan will be a priority. Proven experience is needed now more than ever.

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St. Louis County Commissioner District 6 (nonpartisan)

Keith Nelson
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Keith Nelson

Candidate declined to participate.

Matt Matasich
Matt Matasich.jpeg
Matt Matasich

I am 62 years old, a Virginia resident, retired private investor. Graduate of the University of St. Thomas Finance/Political Science. Virginia City Council, citizen-voting member of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

Top county priorities

Nelson declined to participate.

Matasich: Top priority is to split St. Louis County; unify the Iron Range in new Northern County; Mesabi County would take control of taconite production tax revenues. This would drastically cut residential and commercial real estate taxes.

Budget

Nelson declined to participate.

Matasich: The budget will soon reach half-billion dollars; this is ridiculous. Time has come for serious operations management. Taxpayers can't afford this mayhem.

Housing

Nelson declined to participate.

Matasich: City of Duluth has a housing problem; madame mayor and Duluth Housing Authority must take the lead.

Health and social services

Nelson declined to participate.

Matasich: These are mandates of the federal and state government, St. Louis County bureaucracy must operate within these parameters.

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Duluth City Question (yes/no)

The city has an existing parks fund levy set as a fixed annual dollar amount of $2,600,000 on the referendum market value of all taxable property within the city, which is 0.0290052 percent on the referendum market value of all taxable property within the city for the year 2023. The current parks fund levy is applicable indefinitely unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law. Should the city increase its parks fund levy to a new fixed annual percentage amount of 0.0472654 percent on the referendum market value of all taxable property within the city, which is $4,236,821 on the referendum market value of all taxable property within the city in 2023, and end the entire parks fund levy referendum revenue authorization in twenty-five (25) years at the end of the year 2047, unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law? The sole purpose of the parks fund levy is funding parks and recreation facilities and activities.

What this is: This is a referendum to determine whether Duluth residents should increase their financial support for upkeep of Duluth’s parks and trails system.

What the money is used for: Trails, parks and recreational programming

How much it would cost per taxpayer: A resident with a home valued at $200,000 pays about $58 per year currently. That could increase to around $94 if the referendum passes — $36 more than this year.

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8th Congressional District

Pete Stauber, GOP
Pete Stauber
Pete Stauber

My wife, Jodi, and I have five children and a foster baby and they are one of many reasons I am running for re-election: to ensure a better future for our children and generations to come. I understand what issues matter most and will always fight for what is right.

Jen Schultz, DFL
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Jen Schultz

Growing up in a small town I learned the importance of supportive communities. I put myself through college and earned a graduate degree from the University of Minnesota. I’m an economist and served as a state legislator for eight years, chairing Human Services. I live in Duluth with my husband and our two sons.

Abortion

Stauber: As the father of five children, I believe that all life has value and we should do all we can to protect the most vulnerable among us.

Schultz: I am the only pro-choice candidate in this race. We need to ensure folks have access to contraception. In Congress, I will fight for our rights to privacy and prevent us from going backwards. Politicians do not belong in our doctors’ offices.

Climate change

Stauber: Our economic climate is in terrible shape due to record spending by Washington Democrats who’ve recklessly spent trillions of dollars, borrowed largely from China, resulting in 40-year high inflation. Working families in the Northland are bearing the brunt of Joe Biden’s disastrous economic policies that have put America last.

Schultz: Global climate change is affecting every part of the world, including Minnesota. We must take action. Northern Minnesota is uniquely positioned to take advantage of a shift to green energy. Our highly skilled and experienced workforce would welcome an influx of stable, union jobs created through building and maintaining sustainable alternative energy infrastructure.

Copper-nickel mining

Stauber: Minnesota’s mineral wealth is unparalleled. When it comes to mining, my record is clear: I support iron ore, copper-nickel and precious metals mining because we can have a strong economy and a clean environment. We don’t have to choose. We must do all we can to return our critical mineral dominance.

Schultz: I fully support our mining industry. I have met with all stakeholders and everyone agrees we cannot pollute our water. I will work with everyone to ensure mining is done safely, while honoring our treaties and protecting the environment. Stauber has not secured any federal investments for research and development in mining.

Public safety

Stauber: As a retired police officer of 23 years, I will always stand with our police, sheriffs and emergency responders. Unlike my opponent, who voted to defund our law enforcement, I will do all I can to provide our police with the resources needed to keep our communities safe.

Schultz: I support full funding for law enforcement and first responders. We must invest in support, training, and resources for our police. Stauber voted against $350 billion for law enforcement and did not support the D.C. and Capitol police or FBI agents when they were threatened.

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State Senate District 3

Grant Hauschild, DFL
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Grant Hauschild

I’m a father, health care nonprofit leader, and experienced policy professional. I’ve worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture promoting rural economic development, as a labor policy adviser in the U.S. Senate, and I’m currently a Hermantown city councilor and executive director of a health care foundation.

Andrea Zupancich, GOP
Andrea Zupancich
Andrea Zupancich

I’m a mother of four, new grandmother, long-standing northern Minnesotan, small business owner, and my husband is the fourth-generation part-owner in his family’s business. I am Babbitt's mayor (eight years); prior council (2); member of Fight for Mining and Mining Minnesota; board member of Up North Jobs and Jobs for Minnesotans.

Mining

Hauschild: I support mining and I support a strong, objective regulatory process. We must protect our environment and politics should not drive the decisions on whether a certain project can meet standards — the thorough review by our professional state regulators should. We must be a state that can do both — protect our environment and encourage new economic development.

Zupancich: Northern Minnesota is home to the richest and cleanest deposits. We could be the leaders in mining these minerals not only for our country’s own independence, but in safety standards and environmental standards. We should NOT be dependent on foreign entities who can cut us off at any moment.

Education

Hauschild: My wife and I have two young children and part of the reason we live in Minnesota is because of its history of high-quality education. However, we must continue to support our children and schools through equitable funding for our Northland schools, stronger support for counselors and special education, and smaller classroom sizes.

Zupancich: Our children are still struggling after the COVID shutdowns. We need to focus on bringing back the basics of education and core values back to age-appropriate levels. They need our help and guidance. And parents need to be able to weigh in on what they want their children to learn.

Infrastructure

Hauschild: Legislators walked away from last session having failed to pass a bonding bill. I’m running because I’m sick of the gridlock. As a senator, I will fight for a strong bonding bill that will ensure the Northland gets its fair share for our critical infrastructure and support high-paying jobs.

Zupancich: Infrastructure provides critical needs and services, along with union jobs, for our residents in northern Minnesota. Roads need fixing, bridges structurally sound, but it is more than that, it is sewage and water systems, schools and now charging stations and broadband. Most of which is aging and needs replacement or needs to be installed.

Public safety

Hauschild: As a city councilor, I’ve been a strong advocate for additional resources for our police to recruit more officers. In addition, I want more resources for our rural ambulance and EMS because they face severe budget challenges, and our residents need to know they can rely on an ambulance when minutes and even seconds matter.

Zupanchich: Our police need to know we have their backs as they protect ours. The criminals need to be held accountable and not released earlier only to reoffend. We need to adhere to criminal sentences. I stand behind our law enforcement and am the endorsed candidate of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

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State House District 3A

Rob Ecklund, DFL
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Rob Ecklund

My home is in International Falls. I am married to Joan, and we have three sons. I am a retired papermaker, and a former Koochiching County commissioner. I have volunteered as a coach in hockey and have served on several local boards. I also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Roger J. Skraba, GOP
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Roger Skraba

Born and raised in Ely. Graduated from Ely High School. Graduated from North Dakota State University, Fargo, with a construction management degree. U.S. Army veteran. Small business owner and carpenter. Current mayor of Ely, fourth term. Chairman of St. Louis County Planning Commission.

Mining

Ecklund: We need to support all our current mining operations and do what we can to keep them operational. All future mining projects need to be fully vetted. Lease holders deserve to have their projects reviewed by our agencies as required by law. We must extend unemployment benefits for North Shore miners.

Skraba: The current administration does not support copper nickel precious metal mining. The current mine plans need to be processed by the regulatory agencies. I will ensure the process is followed. If they meet or exceed the standards set by the regulatory agencies then they get a permit to mine.

Education

Education: Public Education is the backbone of our society. We need to fully fund public education, and one of the most important things that we can do is greatly expand the mental health and counseling services in our schools. As a state, we are ranked well toward the bottom in national spending, and this needs to be corrected.

Skraba: Minnesota’s education system needs reform. I will work with anyone who wants to help get it back on track. Because of the school shutdowns we have students who are going to need extra attention. We all need to work together to help all students get caught up.

Health care

Ecklund: Health care costs will be hard to control as long as we have for-profit private insurance that we, as a society, rely on. We need to move to a universal health care plan, or a single payer type system. This is going to be a challenge, but as long as we are a for-profit health care delivery system, we will always see inequities.

Skraba: The cost of health care needs to be stabilized. As a mayor, I’ve seen good plans and bad plans. The legislature needs to quit working for the special interests and start working for the people. It is a solvable problem, but we need to work together.

Property taxes

Ecklund: Property taxes can be addressed by increasing Local Government Aid and County Program aid formulas. This would help local government units keep the levies from increasing. The other program that can be fixed is the formula for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). This would be another tool to help counties keep from increasing the local levy.

Skraba: The State has a $10 billion surplus. Use some of that to reduce the state's property taxes. We are obviously taxing more than we need, hence the surplus. There has to be a better way of assessing and collecting the money the government needs to function. Let’s work together to find it.

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State House District 3B

Mary Murphy, DFL
Mary Murphy
Mary Murphy

I’m a lifelong Hermantown resident. My father was a steelworker. I received my Bachelor of Arts from St. Scholastica and taught school for three years at Clover Valley and 33 years at Duluth Central High School. I’m a former union member and former vice president of the Duluth Area Central Labor body.

Natalie Zeleznikar, GOP
Natalie Zeleznikar
Natalie Zeleznikar

I have cared for seniors for 30 years as a nursing home administrator/assisted living owner/operator. The last two-plus years, I had families at winter windows trying to say goodbye as I held the hand of many dying seniors. We are humans and need socialization. Never again can we be kept from each other for months/years. We have increased depression/mental illness and gaps in learning. I will vote for initiatives that make common sense common again. I believe in term limits, regardless of party. I learned valuable leadership skills for certain and uncertain times.

Public safety

Murphy: I supported increased funding for police officers, firefighters and mental health services. My 2020 Infrastructure Jobs bill invested in correctional facilities at Willow River, Togo, and for a new meat processing building at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center, a highly successful model that teaches lifelong trade skills for employment.

Zeleznikar: I support fully funding law enforcement so police can keep our communities safe. My opponent voted to defund police (6/18/20). Catch-and-release makes sense for fishing, but not with violent criminals.

Economy

Murphy: I support small businesses and workers. I voted to replenish Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Program, for historic broadband investments that are returning big dividends — enabling young families to live, work and play here, and continue pushing for eliminating Social Security taxes, and to extend unemployment benefits for laid-off iron miners.

Zeleznikar: I support business growth. Without businesses, the taxes are shifted 100% to the individual. I support lower taxes. I support mining. I support elimination of the Social Security tax. My opponent voted against Social Security tax relief for seniors (6/30/2021).

Environment

Murphy: Protecting our land, water, air and natural resources is essential. As first Legacy Chair, I produced a Legacy Fund guide after passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. I also established Minnesota’s first wind power regulations, and provided numerous water and conservation investments via my 2020 bonding bill.

Zeleznikar: I support common sense. We live in northern Minnesota and need to heat our home with gas/propane. We use diesel trucks, tractors, etc. and must stop universal mandates for electric only. We must assure common sense stewardship of the land. Oil is in thousands of products consumed. Period.

Health care

Murphy: I support more access to quality, affordable health care for working families, seniors, individuals, children and people with disabilities. I’ve voted to reduce health insurance costs for Minnesotans who use the individual market, make prescription drugs more affordable, support our health care workforce, and for pay raises to personal care attendants.

Zeleznikar: I support a commitment to fund nursing homes and assisted living. We must assure health care funding matches enforced state regulations. I support funding for disability services, and funding for more mental health programs.

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State Senate District 7

Ben DeNucci, DFL
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Ben DeNucci

I’m a fifth-generation Iron Ranger; my family has lived in Nashwauk for 115 years. My grandfathers worked for National Steel. My father did, too, before he became an educator just like my mom. I am a volunteer firefighter, former mayor, current county commissioner, and a small-business owner.

Robert Farnsworth, GOP
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Robert Farnsworth

After growing up in Chisholm, I earned my bachelor's degree in history from the University of St. Thomas and my master's degree in special education from Mankato. I've been a teacher for over 20 years and am also a real estate agent. I live in Hibbing with my wife, Jamie, and our four children.

Mining

DeNucci: Talk of idling mines is irresponsible. I will bring stakeholders together to negotiate long-term land deals. I’m a Twin Metals and Polymet champion. Our minerals will transform America’s economy if we stop attacks on the permitting process. Our miners do it safely, while preserving the nature that drives tourism here.

Farnsworth: As the son of a 33-year union miner, I know the importance of good paying mining jobs. I support our taconite mines and the proposed copper-nickel mines. Our iron mines helped build our nation, and copper-nickel mining can move us into a 21st-century economy.

Jobs

DeNucci: Without good paying jobs, we have no community. I know the challenges businesses face and the resources they require to grow. I’ve saved and created jobs as a small business owner. I support career and technical training pathways so our kids can secure good-paying careers here at home.

Farnsworth: Mining is the backbone of the Iron Range, and we need to support our mines to keep these good jobs. We need to encourage new mines that will support the next generation of Rangers. We must also create value added products to our mines to increase employment on the Range.

Education

DeNucci: Northland schools should never lag behind the metro for resources. The budget surplus is an opportunity to recruit and retain top-tier teachers, support special education, reduce classroom sizes, and provide mental health counselors. It’s the least our children deserve after several years of disrupted school.

Farnsworth: As a teacher, I am passionate about education. We need to reform our state graduation standards to allow schools the flexibility to provide an education our kids will use after high school. This includes a wide range of options such as college prep, extensive technical training, and work readiness programs.

Infrastructure

DeNucci: We need to make the right investments, like finishing Highway 169 from Pengilly to Marble, replacing aging wastewater infrastructure, and fully connecting high-speed broadband so everyone has access to telemedicine. The Building Trades, Carpenters, Teamsters and 49ers endorsed me because I’m committed to passing legislation that moves the Northland forward.

Farnsworth: I support fully funding our road and bridge infrastructure. We need to stop using statewide tax dollars on trains in the metro and reallocate that funding to the roads everyone uses. I support earmarking all sales tax revenue for auto related purchases into the transportation budget to fund our roads.

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State House District 7A

Spencer Igo, GOP
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Spencer Igo

I live in Wabana Township with my dog, Moxie. Itasca County has always been my home and it has made serving you in the Minnesota House of Representatives these last two years one of the most humbling privileges of my life.

Julie Sandstede, DFL
Julie Sandstede.jpeg
Julie Sandstede

I was born and raised in Hibbing. My husband, Evan, and I have three children and one grandchild. This fall marks my 29th year as a teacher. I’m a union leader, city band director, church choir director and volunteer firefighter. I’ve been a state representative for the past six years.

Mining

Igo: Mining will always be our past, present and future. We must continue to support our taconite industry for how it produces the steel that builds our country. Educating and advocating for copper nickel mining is a top priority not just for the Range but all of Minnesota and our nation.

Sandstede: Mining is an important part of our past and our future. I support both mining and miners including ferrous and non-ferrous mining that has cleared proper environmental review, protecting good paying jobs, ensuring extended unemployment insurance when needed and protecting local communities by funding flood mitigation projects for legacy mine pits.

Education

Igo: Education is vital to bringing our best days to reality. We must invest in students by working with our area parents and educators to create an education system that works for all. We need programs for students to discover their passions from STEM and career and technical training in the trades.

Sandstede: As a teacher I know the importance of a good education for strong communities and lifelong success. Students and teachers deserve the support they need including funding, mental health resources, and other social supports. We also need to ensure affordable and accessible higher education — whether two-year, four-year or vocational apprenticeships.

Infrastructure

Igo: To keep our home and communities strong we must continue to invest in our region’s infrastructure. From local municipal upgrades to safe and secure transportation, these investments keep people working and attract people to live and thrive in our Northland. This is how we can give a hand up.

Sandstede: I support a robust bonding bill to provide for local critical infrastructure projects including roads and bridges, water infrastructure, parks and trails and regional attractions. We also need to continue investing in broadband and establish ongoing funding for small cities’ roads, which are currently excluded from receiving gas tax revenue.

Jobs

Igo: Jobs are a front of mind and critical need for our home. We must continue to expand our traditional industries of timber, taconite and tourism. We can couple that development with new industry and business while partnering with our local trades and community leaders. We can have a diverse economy.

Sandstede: I will continue to fight to protect the jobs we have and expand economic opportunities in the region. This includes supporting our mainstreet small businesses, developing workforce training opportunities, expanding broadband access, and ensuring the resources workers need (child care, housing, etc.). Good paying jobs are essential to attracting new residents.

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State House District 7B

David Lislegard, DFL
Dave Lislegard.jpg
David Lislegard

After high school, I went to work at LTV as a steelworker. After LTV shut down, I went back to school at Mesabi Community College and graduated from UMD. Lisa and I have been married for 27 years and have two daughters. When not in St. Paul, I work at Lakehead Constructors.

Matt Norri, GOP
Matt Norri.jpg
Matt Norri

I'm a fourth-generation Iron Ranger, father and husband. My experience working in a small, family-owned business has allowed me to work and get to know folks in cities across our district.

Mining

Lislegard: I strongly support mining. I’m endorsed by the steelworkers and building trades unions. They know there is no fiercer defender of our way of life and mining jobs than me. I will continue to work to get PolyMet and Twin Metals started. I will fight to make sure HibTac has the ore they need to stay open.

Norri: I will be a strong supporter of mining and work to clear the roadblocks set up by Democrats. Time and again, my opponent has sided with radical environmentalists by voting for regulations and energy rate hikes that would destroy mining on the Range and hurt the timber industry.

Infrastructure

Lislegard: We need to pass a robust bonding bill that invests in infrastructure for our cities and counties, and creates good paying, middle-class jobs. Further, we can build that infrastructure with iron, copper and nickel mined on the Iron Range!

Norri: Roads and bridges are a priority for 99% of Minnesotans — it's always disappointing to see Democrats waste billions of dollars on empty light rail trains when we could be fixing our roads and bridges. My priority: Lanes not trains!

Economy

Lislegard: I worked in the House to eliminate state taxes on Social Security. No senior should have to pay taxes on those benefits! As vice chair of the tax committee, I led the effort to pass a bipartisan tax bill that would have sent back over $4 billion in tax relief to our citizens and businesses, which is good for our economy.

Norri: Government has a massive budget surplus, meaning Minnesotans deserve massive tax relief. With inflation soaring to record highs under Joe Biden, you deserve to keep more of your money. I'll also work to end all taxes on social security for our seniors — something my opponent has failed to get done.

Jobs

Lislegard: Protecting and promoting our mining, logging, tourism and health care-based economy remains my focus. When people have good jobs, a lot of problems go away. I pledge to be diligent and careful with your tax money, get the surplus back into your pockets, and promote jobs and our way of life!

Norri: My campaign slogan is "Restore the Range" — we can't do that without taking advantage of our God-given resources and boosting our mining, timber and other industries. We need to streamline permitting and remove roadblocks to unleash the potential of the Range and create good jobs for our world-class workforce.

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State Senate District 8

Jen McEwen, DFL
Jen McEwen.jpg
Jen McEwen

Jen McEwen is seeking reelection to her second term as a senator, She is an attorney who often represents disabled workers. She is a mother of two children and is married to a teacher in the Duluth Public Schools system.

Alex Moe, GOP
Alex Moe.jpg
Alex Moe

Alex Moe is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth who is now employed in corrections for Douglas County.

Election law reform

McEwen: We must fight all efforts to limit the right to vote. I strongly support efforts to promote greater voter participation and access, including protection of same-day registration, early voting, vote by mail, and re-enfranchisement for incarcerated and recently incarcerated people. I will strongly oppose any efforts to curtail our voting rights.

Moe: The perspective of the voters is paramount. If the voters are concerned about the integrity and security of the election, then it is important to do something to revitalize the confidence in elections. Ways to accomplish this include election judges and laws to strengthen election integrity.

Racial disparities legislation

McEwen: Minnesota’s disgraceful racial disparities are reinforced by wealth inequality. I’m fighting for: a $15 minimum wage indexed to inflation; a cap on the ratio between lowest and highest-paid workers; rights to housing, health care, paid parental and sick leave; tuition-free public school pre-K through post-graduate; and fare-free public transportation.

Moe: I support legislation that helps those in need, without discriminating against people regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other protected status. Policies that help the lower class are the best way to heal racial divides, such as lowering taxes and addressing inflation and gas prices.

Economy and inflation

McEwen: The rising inflation we have seen post-pandemic has been largely driven by corporate greed. As workers have demanded better pay and benefits, many of our wealthiest corporations have engaged in price-gouging to keep profits and executive salaries growing. Wealth inequality creates great instability in our economy, and must be addressed.

Moe: I support legislation to lower gas taxes and small business taxes. I would also support efforts to simplify the tax codes in Minnesota and remove tax breaks designed to appease the upper-class and corporations. Doing so would allow lowering taxes across the board while retaining tax income.

Gun violence legislation

McEwen: I will continue to vigorously support common sense gun safety legislation, including a ban on assault-style weapons; a universal background check requirement; closing sales loopholes; and the implementation of a comprehensive gun buy-back program. Community safety is more important than the profits of the firearms industry.

Moe: Solving gun violence means addressing the mental health crisis in our state and county. We need mental health counselors in our schools and better access to mental health care. Additionally, guns that are sold illegally under current laws need to be the target rather than making more laws.

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State House District 8A

Art Johnston, GOP
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Art Johnston

Art Johston, a former commercial fisherman, is a semi-retired structural engineer. He served eight years as a member of the Duluth School Board and has two adult sons.

Liz Olson, DFL
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Liz Olson

A third-term incumbent, graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth and went on to earn a master’s degree from Luther Seminary. She and her husband are the parents of a daughter.

Election law reform

Johnston: Go back to voting on election day, Nov. 8, or absentee ballots. Discussions before voting! Change school and municipal election days to coincide with general elections to increase voter turnout. Change Minnesota law to stop political removal of school board members and overturning elections.

Olson: We need to protect and strengthen our democracy by expanding voter registration options, increasing access to early vote and voting by mail, ensuring voters have the information and the support they need to vote, and restoring the right to vote for Minnesotans living in our community on probation and parole.

Racial disparities legislation

Johnston: School choice to allow parents to pull their kid out of public schools that are failing our kids of color. Support higher education tuition aid for qualified students of lower income demographic groups. Fully fund the police in all neighborhoods, and require the highest ethical standards of all police.

Olson: In 2020, I voted with my House DFL colleagues to declare racism a public health crisis. We need to intentionally address systemic disparities by centering BIPOC voices. Including funding the pipeline of BIPOC teachers, cultural heritage grants to BIPOC communities, and criminal justice reforms such as eliminating pretextual stops.

Economy and inflation

Johnston: Lower energy costs and provide high paying jobs by approving the Keystone pipeline, the Nemadji Trails generator, Line 3 and PolyMet. Promote alternative energy when it can compete with fossil fuels and keep energy costs from rising. Refund the $9 billion Minnesota revenue surplus back to the taxpayers.

Olson: We need to ensure Minnesotans are able to provide for their families with affordable child care, good paying jobs with benefits like paid family and medical leave, ensuring tax fairness, ensuring workers be allowed a voice on the job through a union, and growing our local workforce, including investing in affordable housing.

Gun violence legislation

Johnston: Enforce existing gun laws. Enforce the maximum sentences for any violent crimes committed with guns. Stop the hatred and name-calling that now runs our politics, and has permeated and spread across our country. We all must show caring by building bridges, not shooting guns, across our politics and our neighborhoods.

Olson: I support requiring background checks on all gun sales and an extreme risk law. I also support meaningful actions that improve community safety by fully funding schools, improving mental health care access, youth services, and violence interruption programs, affordable housing, and employment training.

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State House District 8B

Becky Hall, GOP
Becky Hall.jpeg
Becky Hall

Becky Hall, of Duluth, is a former economic development official for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and mother of several children.

Alicia Kozlowski, DFL
Alicia Kozlowski.jpg
Alicia Kozlowski

Alicia Kozlowski works for the city of Duluth in communications. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth and a master’s degree in business administration from the College of St. Scholastica.

Election law reform

Hall: I support legislation that strengthens the "chain of custody" for ballots, cleaning up voter rolls to ensure only qualified voters participate and requiring a legal ID to ensure election security, with a "voting ID" provided for free for those who may need assistance. I also support efforts to ensure that we have an ample amount of election judges.

Kozlowski: My grandma, a Native American, couldn’t vote 60 years ago. We must ensure election integrity. It’s essential that we protect voting infrastructure with an independent redistricting commission; reinstate voting rights for convicted felons upon release; support automatic opt-in for voters; eliminate intimidation; interference and deception; and support automatic absentee voter list for automatic delivery.

Racial disparities legislation

Hall: I would enforce our anti-discrimination laws, legislation that is sensitive to how lockdowns and mandates have negatively affected all of us, support police so they can keep our neighborhoods safe, keep all our kids safely in school so they can have the best educational experience possible, and support our small businesses.

Kozlowski: I’m a proud Indigenous and Mexican-American, called by my community to bring issues to the forefront of state public policy, where we’ve long been underrepresented. As the descendant of a fierce Ojibwe grandmother, who spent her life working in education, I believe that together, we can change the outcomes for our communities for generations to come.

Economy and inflation

Hall: Rein in government by funding government adequately but restraining increases. The $9 billion surplus — save a sliver for a "rainy day fund" and put a majority of it back in Minnesotans' pockets. They'll put it back into the economy, I support energy policy that keeps costs low, and I support jobs created by small businesses and mining.

Kozlowski: I will defend workers’ rights and collaborate on policies that ensure living wages, safe working conditions, and a voice on the job, including high-quality education and affordable quality child care and elder care. I will also strengthen collective bargaining rights and protect workers’ ability to unionize and bargain.

Gun violence legislation

Hall: I support police protection in our schools, and trained and undercover volunteers (retired military, police) acting as "marshals," to keep our kids safe. I would replace the sign saying "no guns allowed on the premises" with a sign that says "Inside, we are protecting our children from gun violence, criminals enter at risk.”

Kozlowski: We need background checks and a ban on sales of high-capacity assault rifles. I support victim/survivors of gun violence, domestic abuse, sexual assault and gender-based violence through program development, funding initiatives, and ensuring our public safety initiatives center them. Additionally, we need “red flag” laws and increased support for mental health care.

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State Senate District 11

Michelle Boyechko, DFL
Michelle Boyechko.jpg
Michelle Boyechko

I was born and raised in Duluth. My family and I moved to Tamarack in 2013. With a lot of research and backbreaking work, we started a small farm, where we currently raise cattle and pigs. I have been married to my husband, Pete, for 19 years and I am the mother of two teenagers.

Jason Rarick, GOP
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Jason Rarick

Candidate did not respond to multiple requests to complete survey. Information taken from Duluth News Tribune op-ed, previous stories and news releases.

Rarick is a union electrician and self-employed electrical contractor who lives in Brook Park, Pine County. He is a graduate of Dunwoody College of Technology. Rarick was elected to the state House in 2014 and won a special election to the Senate in 2019. Rarick has one son.

Voting/elections

Boyechko: I am proud to be a citizen of Minnesota, where we have consistently been a leader in voter turnout, election reform and ballot integrity. This midterm election is just as important, if not more important than the big national elections. Local elections are where we see the greatest impact on our day-and-day lives.

Rarick: “Voting laws are necessary for the strength of our elections, but we aren’t even upholding what few we already have,” he said in 2020. “Voter ID legislation will remedy that, as it is simply a way to verify that an individual at the polls is voting legally.”

Economy

Boyechko: One of Minnesota's leading industries is farming, and small- to middle-sized farms cannot compete with huge industrial farms. When we lose them to buyouts by Big Agriculture or development for subdivisions, our small, rural communities suffer. Minnesota needs to support small farmers using regenerative practices to create more resilient food systems and climate-resilient farms.

Rarick has touted his trade school roots and said there is a need for more emphasis on educational routes other than four-year colleges. He has called for lower taxes on working families, expanded rural broadband service and support for small businesses.

Public safety

Boyechko: Community safety needs to be more than just increasing police budgets. Working to meet basic human needs can go a long way toward crime reduction. It requires affordable and accessible physical and mental health care, affordable child care, access to healthy and nutritious food, a place to live, meaningful and dignified work and good education.

Rarick has supported more funding for police, expanded victims’ rights and harsher penalties for some crimes, including impaired driving. He blamed DFL leaders for riots stemming from the murder of George Floyd, saying “Minneapolis recovery and public safety affects the entire state, not just the metro area.”

Abortion

Boyechko: I am unapologetically pro-choice. This is an attempt by the Republicans to insert themselves into our most private and consequential life decisions. Republicans WILL pass a total abortion ban if they can manage it; several candidates have said as much. Abortion bans do not stop abortions; they stop safe abortions.

Rarick has supported restrictions. “As a legislator, it is my responsibility to represent and protect the unborn,” he said in 2021. “As a state, it should be our goal to ensure that each child is welcomed into life and protected under our laws and that tragic situations should be avoided whenever possible.”

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State House District 11A

Jeff Dotseth, GOP
Jeff Dotseth.jpg
Jeff Dotseth

I am a husband, father, grandfather, farmer, Realtor, small business owner and former township board supervisor who is looking to bring common sense to our state government and make sure the people of District 11A once again are heard.

Pete Radosevich, DFL
Peter L. Radosevich
Peter L. Radosevich

I'm an Esko attorney, publisher of the Pine Knot News, former owner of Eskomo Pizza Pies and host of political cable access show "Harry's Gang." I've lived in Carlton County for 22 years with my wife, Tara, and three kids, and have been involved in community activities including the Chamber and United Way.

Voting/elections

Dotseth: The foundation of our state relies on the sanctity of our elections and we must ensure an unimpeachable process. Citizens deserve a transparent, accountable system which makes it easy to vote but hard to cheat in Minnesota's elections.

Radosevich: I'd support voter ID if there was a problem, but there's no problem. Teams of lawyers have scrutinized each and every vote in several recounts. No fraud has been found. Voting should be easy and secure. Until we start seeing fraud, there's no reason to make it more difficult than it already is.

Economy

Dotseth: We need common-sense leaders in St. Paul who will do the right thing: When the government has too much money, give it back to the people. I am committed to unlocking opportunities here; we have rich reserves of minerals, abundant timber and skilled laborers. Let’s unleash our abundant natural resources.

Radosevich: It's essential that we tax fairly and spend those taxes wisely. Our economy is dependent on consistent, fair and stable government. All sides must work together to make sure our economy works for everyone: business, workers, families, retired people, children. It's not "us vs. them.” It's just "us,” working out solutions to our collective problems.

Public safety

Dotseth: Minnesota needs to get serious about improving public safety. The “Defund the Police” Democrats in St. Paul have refused to boost funding for law enforcement. It is time to send a message that crime won't be tolerated, and criminals will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Radosevich: Public safety is a core government function. We hire law enforcement and fire protectors to keep us safe and secure. It's our job to make sure public safety is properly and adequately funded, and that we take care of those who take care of us.

Abortion

Dotseth: As a pro-life candidate, I understand this is a deeply personal issue. I want to see life protected from the unborn to the elderly. It’s unfortunate to see Democrats attempt to mislead Minnesotans on this issue — the simple reality is abortion is constitutionally protected in Minnesota by court ruling.

Radosevich: As a Catholic, I don't support abortion. But as a legislator, I have no business imposing my religious beliefs on the public. Reproductive care is a medical decision between a patient and her doctor. Minnesota has the correct laws on this topic and I would not support any changes.

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Hermantown City Council (elect 2)

nonpartisan

Chad Roberg

Bio: My name is Chad Roberg. I’ve lived in Hermantown for six years with my wife, Lindsey, and our three kids. I volunteer as a coach and with the elementary school. I have a finance and insurance background and I’m a shrewd negotiator.

Top city priorities: I believe the top priorities facing our community are infrastructure (roads, waste water, plow trucks, etc), services (police, fire, schools) and financials (revenue collected/expenses).

Development: Development is where our emotions can run wild. Change is scary. Our city will continue to grow, and the council will be able to guide that growth. I’ll do my best to be an advocate for your home values, your taxes and your kids.

Recreation Initiative: I support the recreation initiative. Using sales tax will allow the city to collect the lion’s share of the funding from non-residents. This is a unique opportunity to make some valuable updates. Does that mean that we do not have other needs? Of course not. There is more work to do.

Council goals: I won’t pretend that I have a grand agenda. If elected, I’ll do my best to absorb information and make recommendations that are in the best interest of our community. Hermantown is thriving, and I want that to continue.

Brian LeBlanc

Bio: I was born and raised in Hermantown, graduating in 2012. I attended the University of St. Thomas, where I played hockey and served as a captain, graduating in 2018 with a degree in mechanical engineering. My wife and I married in 2020 and welcomed our baby girl last month.

Top city priorities: Responsible development is a top priority for Hermantown. With the recent boom in new housing, we as a community need to make sure that we develop in a way that will stay true to our established residents while also giving new families an opportunity to grow the city of quality living.

Development: With the quality of our schools and sense of community, we are seeing an influx of new construction. The City Council has a duty to the impacted residents to make sure that the development of new infrastructure meets the increasing demand with the existing residents in mind.

Recreation Initiative: Our facilities and recreational opportunities have largely been ignored since their development. As a town we owe our youth the opportunity to grow and compete in sports, giving them the tools both emotionally and physically to succeed later in life. The recreational initiative gives the community an opportunity to better provide these opportunities.

Council goals: I feel it is my responsibility to partake in making sound decisions that promote Hermantown as a community focused on family values and a strong sense of civic pride. Increasing resources for rural residents, responsible development, and better facilities for our youth are my top goals as a council member.

Andy Hjelle

No response from candidate prior to deadline.

Gerald K. Wallace

Bio: I am a married father of two. I am an attorney in private practice at my own firm. I serve on Hermantown Broadband Taskforce and on the Board of Appeals and Adjustments for the city of Hermantown. I grew up in Duluth in Lakeside and Woodland.

Top city priorities: My top priorities are staffing and sustainability at the Hermantown Volunteer Fire Department and making development in Hermantown a more open and sustainable process. Department staff levels are half of what they should be. I have posted my plans on these issues to my campaign Facebook page.

Development: Hermantown is blessed with easily developable land. We are conveniently located for development in the Northland. We have good schools, good roads for the area, and available land. Development is going to happen. It is up to the community to control it, manage it and make it work for us.

Recreation Initiative: I am in favor of it. Our community needs more public institutions to bring us together. These projects are good for our kids and our community. The sales tax processes should ensure that there is not a permanent tax increase and the burden is shared by both residents and visitors.

Council goals: I want to broaden the development process, make the decision process clearer to the community and input broader. I want to fix the staff problem at the fire department. I think my plan will give a path forward by the end of 2023, with a solution before the end of 2024.

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Hermantown School Board (elect 3)

nonpartisan

David Hokanson

Bio: I have called Hermantown home for two decades and I am a graduate of the University of

Minnesota Duluth. Over the past 18 years, I have worked with others to develop a Duluth-based company into a national brand with nearly 300 employees and currently serve as vice president, engineering.

District priorities: Student achievement is important as ever as evidenced by recent testing. Bolstering communication with the parents and the community will provide avenues to get more community involvement and provide additional visibility to curriculum. Adequate classroom space and staffing will require continual assessment to ensure an adequate learning environment.

Budget: Managing a budget that is focused on the educational needs of all students with the numerous other priorities of the district is something that I am well prepared for. Having managed larger and more complex budgets, I believe I can bring experience that will be valuable to the board.

Staffing levels:Maintaining appropriate staffing levels will be vitally important to keep desirable class sizes.

Hiring and retaining top level educators in today’s environment is recognizably challenging.

Such challenges present opportunity to solicit feedback from district employees on what is

important to them and to also further community and parent involvement.

Building projects: The district’s facilities are the cornerstone of the community. To enable Hermantown schools to continue to be one of the leading districts in the area the facilities must continue to allow for a second-to-none student and educator experience in the classroom and on the extracurricular stage.

Matthew Brown

Bio: I am a proud husband, father, fisherman and Hermantown community member of 11 years. I am running for the Hermantown School Board in the November election to be a strong advocate for parents and their children while retaining and supporting the great teachers in the district.

District priorities: Strive for completion of the strategic plan objectives put in place through 2024! The next four years are critical to bring this to completion and set the stage for the next version of the long-term plan starting in 2025. I place high priority on quality curriculum with transparency.

Budget: The annual budget (approx. $30 million) must implement the strategic plan. Maintaining a well-balanced budget is crucial for the financial health of the district and their assets, e.g., land and improvements, buildings, equipment, computer hardware. I plan to utilize my MBA degree to ensure strong financial planning in the budgeting process.

Staffing levels: Class sizes are important to student achievement. I would like to see Hermantown maintain a student-teacher ratio lower than the state average (18:1). As a professional services institution staff salaries comprise a large percentage of annual operating expenses. As a result, focusing on high quality staff is a top priority.

Building projects: As a professional engineer I understand execution of building projects. Capital (new) and maintenance building projects are major expenditures in any organization. As one of the best hockey towns in the nation, Hermantown should have a top-notch facility. I believe this should be responsibly funded while avoiding tax levies.

Daniel Elnes

No response from candidate prior to deadline.

Jerrid A. Anderson

Bio: I was born in Duluth and have lived in Hermantown for the past 16 years. Danielle, my wife of 28 years, and I have three children. I am director of operations at Enbridge and a registered professional engineer with a degree in mechanical engineering and MBA in finance.

District priorities: The number one priority needs to be getting our kids' achievement levels back to where they were prior to the pandemic. Hermantown dropped roughly 10 points to slightly over half achieving at grade level. Higher than the state but unacceptable. Next would be attracting and retaining good teachers and staff.

Budget: From what I can tell the budget has been managed well. Board members must have financial acumen to appropriate and direct funds wisely. I’m happy to join the board at this position of financial strength and apply my skills in finance and management to achieve education excellence goals.

Staffing levels: We must monitor closely our teacher to student ratios and keep them low by hiring good teachers and staff as needed. The district is fortunate to have so many that want to open-enroll, which helps hitting target class sizes. Need to continue demographic assessments in their planning.

Building projects: The elementary school is aging and reaching capacity. The old and undersized district office building needs to be replaced; it used to be a meat packing plant. I have much to offer in facility planning that can help fill the void Dianne Mathews and Gary Kneisl are leaving.

Matthew Munger

Bio: My name is Matthew Munger. I have been a Hermantown Hawk my whole life. Now, my wife and I are raising our three children as Hawks, too. I have spent 20-plus years in the information technology field. In my free time I enjoy coaching youth sports and outdoor activities.

Priorities: My priorities for the district include supporting educators, engaging the community, focusing on outcomes for all students, and ensuring the safety of everyone in our schools. In addition, we need to address the short- and long-term needs of our facilities. Visit www.mungerforschoolboard.com for details on my vision for the district.

Budget: Traditionally, HCS has made sound fiscal decisions and I intend to hold to that convention. We need to continually evaluate our budget to ensure we are making every dollar count. Where there are gaps, it is important to identify creative solutions, such as sharing of resources, grants, fundraising, etc.

Staffing levels: It is critical to continue staffing our schools with exceptional individuals who support our district’s mission. An emphasis must be made in reducing class sizes and listening to our educators and staff to identify ways to improve retention and attract new talent. Showing gratitude for our great teachers is a priority.

Building projects: As our community grows, we need to partner with the city of Hermantown and area leaders to make strategic plans for future needs. We want our schools to meet students’ needs from preschool through graduation, so we need to develop community partnerships to ensure funding solutions can be found.

Timothy Peterson

Bio: My wife Sandi and I have resided in Hermantown since 1990. Our children graduated from, and grandchildren currently attend, Hermantown. My education includes degrees in accounting and an MBA from UMD. I’m the board’s vice chair and a UMD Finance faculty member following management careers at Allete, RSM McGladrey, Cleveland Cliffs.

District priorities: Continue the tremendous effort our teachers and administration made to get our students back to pre-COVID academic and mental well-being levels. Being competitive in hiring and retaining qualified teachers and staff positions. Diligently work toward developing courses and curriculum options that keep our students engaged, further enhancing their career opportunities.

Budget: As a steward of public trust, I’ve worked with our board to maintain healthy, unrestricted fund balances twice the standard practice guidelines for school districts while maintaining a tax levy at a negative 1.5% average since 2021. Hermantown’s well-positioned to fund our future investments in student facilities and programs.

Staffing levels: We are extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff but face a very competitive labor market. Teacher and staff retention is a high board priority. We are working toward ways to better support their efforts allowing them to do what they do best: teach and support our students.

Building projects: Growth in Hermantown and Fredenberg’s population hastens our need to explore expanding facilities to support a likely corresponding increase in student population. We are also working with the city on a potential new ice sheet and an upgraded baseball field to provide our students with facilities comparable to our neighboring communities.

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Hermantown City Question 1 (yes/no)

Should the City of Hermantown be authorized to pay for a portion of the upgrades to the Hermantown Ice Arena with up to $10,840,000 plus allowable costs and issue bonds as part of the larger Community Recreation Initiative of up to $19,310,000 authorized by the State of Minnesota in the 2021 tax bill and paid for with a portion of the additional one-half of one percent (0.5%) local option sales and use tax?

Hermantown City Question 2 (yes/no)

Should the City of Hermantown be authorized to pay for a walking, running, biking and other non-motorized trail upgrade as part of a larger effort to connect the Essentia Wellness Center, Fichtner Field Complex, Stebner Park, local schools, other communities, and other trail systems with up to $4,750,000 plus allowable costs and issue bonds as part of the larger Community Recreation Initiative of up to $19,310,000 authorized by the State of Minnesota in the 2021 tax bill and paid for with a portion of the additional on-half of one percent (0.5%) local option sales and use tax?

Hermantown City Question 3 (yes/no)

Should the City of Hermantown be authorized to pay for baseball, sports court, playground, basketball, and skate park upgrades at Fichtner Park with up to $3,900,000 plus allowable costs and issue bonds as part of the larger Community Recreation Initiative of up to $19,310,000 authorized by the State of Minnesota in the 2021 tax bill and paid for with a portion of the additional one-half of one percent (0.5%) local option sales and use tax?

What this is: Residents will be asked to vote on a 0.5% sales tax increase to benefit three possible recreation projects: a reimagining of Fitchner Park, the completion of the citywide trail system and an indoor ice sheet built alongside the hockey arena to increase access to ice time. This half-percent increase will bring Hermantown's sales tax, currently at 8.38%, equal to Duluth's sales tax, 8.88%. Voters will get to choose which, or all three, of the projects, but no matter which of the projects are selected, the tax would only increase by 0.5% if any move forward.

What the money is used for: If all three of the referendums pass, the approximately $19 million in sales tax revenue would go to three projects: reimagining Fichtner Park to include a new sports court, playground, baseball field and skate park; an ice sheet addition to the hockey arena to support increased demand for youth ice time; and the completion of the city-wide trail system known as Boulder Trail. Each of the projects individually would get: $3.9 million for Fichtner Park, $4.75 million for the trail system and $10.8 million for the new ice sheet.

How much it would cost per taxpayer: This is not a property tax, but rather a sales tax. So it would be paid by both residents and non-residents. As a sales tax, for every $100 spent on taxable goods, an additional $0.50 would be dedicated to the funding of these projects. For every $10, it would be 5 cents. For every dollar, it would be a half-penny, or $0.005. This tax would not be permanent; it would sunset after collecting a designated amount, depending on which of the referendums pass.

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Proctor School Board (elect 4)

nonpartisan

Joe Ward

Bio: I have lived my entire life in the Proctor School District. I have been an active volunteer in many aspects, in my community. I have been a locomotive engineer on the DM&IR/CN railroad for 33 years. I have a wife and one son, who is a junior at Proctor High School. I have been on the Proctor School board for eight years.

Top district priorities: Our top district priorities are continually improving academic achievement, giving our students the needed tools to succeed, and giving them a safe learning environment.

District budget: The district budget is always a difficult undertaking. Every school district could use more funds to acquire what is necessary for our students. At Proctor, we are fortunate enough to have a great business manager, who helps the board better understand what our current financial situation is, and how we can better manage our finances.

Staffing: Our administrative team has always done a good job with our staffing. We are in desperate need of substitutes in every aspect of our district, but that is an issue everywhere in this country. However, our staff is stellar from top to bottom, and has risen to help aleve this! They also do amazing things for our students.

School safety: School safety in this country is an ever increasing concern. We have kept adjusting our safety protocols to continue to keep our students as safe as possible. It is often a difficult subject to breach. We don’t want to scare our younger students, but we need everyone to be safe. We are doing this at Proctor schools.

Larry Shelton

Candidate was unable to participate due to a medical emergency.

Tom Covington

Bio: I currently work as a technical supervisor for a communications company. I have been with the same company for the last 24 years. Before that, I served seven years in the Army in the communications field. My wife and I have four children.

Top district priorities: We all want the best for students. The public needs to trust the school board decisions toward that goal. Actions over the past few years have caused public concerns. It is vital the School Board address and rebuild that public trust.

District budget: Budgets are a difficult topic for everyone. Whether federal, state or local funds, it comes from taxpayers and must be used efficiently. We all try to make the most with what we have.

Staffing: Every employer seems to be short staffed right now. Schools are no different. We need to examine new ways to fill those open positions. Professionals and retirees may be able to fill part time shortages.

School safety: Many things threaten our school's safety. Bullying, hazing and shootings to name just a few. All options should be considered when discussing how to ensure the safety of students and staff. The easy choice is not always correct.

Leah Blevins

No response from candidate prior to deadline.

Lynn M. Peterson

Bio: My husband Ted and I are both retired educators from Proctor Public Schools. Our four children graduated from PHS, and we have a granddaughter currently at Pike Lake Elementary. I have been actively involved at the elementary, secondary, and district levels as a teacher, staff development/Q-Comp/curriculum coordinator, and family liaison. I am also a dedicated community volunteer.

Top district priorities: Increasing student learning should always be our number one priority. The recent pandemic created disparities. All students suffered losses. Our district is committed to ensure all students receive the best possible educational experience we can offer. An updated strategic plan that includes community members and school personnel will focus on this commitment.

District budget: At present, the budget is in good condition. Fortunately, we have an incredible business manager who keeps the board informed regarding financial matters. Special education continues to be underfunded. Space is an issue in our buildings, and we need to look at expansion. We have not experienced cuts in recent years, but we need to be prepared

Staffing: We have been intentional in hiring and maintaining the best staff. The district is committed to keeping class sizes at levels to maximize student learning. As with most districts, we could utilize more teachers and staff; lack of substitute teachers and staff create struggles. We must continue to provide quality professional development.

School safety: School safety is essential and extends beyond physical structures. Every student and staff member has the right to feel safe both physically and emotionally. We have a police liaison presence, and our administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, and staff are intentional in their efforts to address student and staff concerns.

Amy Pocrnich

Bio: I’m Amy Pocrnich, an incumbent candidate for the Proctor School Board. I’m wrapping up my first term. After a lengthy search to hire a new superintendent, I’m inspired to serve for another term. I work as an assistant professor in accounting and finance at the College of St. Scholastica.

Top district priorities: Our top priority is rebuilding morale and increasing transparency. We have experienced several challenging years and need to look forward with optimism and positivity. As we progress, I believe everything will fall into place. An inspired and appreciated team can move mountains.

District budget: We are fortunate enough to have a business manager that ensures our finances remain strong. COVID-19 has negatively impacted this, but we continue to be fiscally responsible to avoid a deficit. When comparing Proctor’s tax rate to other surrounding districts, you quickly see the value of this community.

Staffing: The wonderful and intelligent staff at the Proctor School District are our greatest asset. We have experienced staffing challenges like many other districts. Overall, our district does not have a long list of vacancies. I contribute this to our administration and staff for making it a sought after employment opportunity.

School safety: School safety is essential. If our children don’t feel safe or have a positive environment, they will not be ready to learn. The school district has policies, guidance and training to ensure building safety. In addition, ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) drills are conducted to assure that everyone knows how to handle crisis situations.

Dave Reyelts

Candidate said they have withdrawn their name from consideration due to personal reasons.

Derek Parendo

No response from candidate prior to deadline.

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Rice Lake City Council (elect 2)

nonpartisan

Brian Dunphy

Bio: I grew up on the North Shore. I graduated from Two Harbors High School and had a short stint at UMD until I discovered that construction was a nice way to pay the bills. I moved back up here from Chicago in 2008.

Biggest challenges facing Rice Lake: People should have more of a say about what goes on instead of the City Council voting things through. About 100 people showed up to a council meeting earlier this summer to oppose a roundabout, but the council voted it through anyway, 3-2. I don’t think that project makes sense financially.

Goals if elected: I’d try to get the council to listen to everyone. The people should have a say since we’re elected officials. We should do our job.

Budget: I haven’t gotten into the city budget yet, so I don’t know exactly where everything is going, but I know the city has received a lot of state grants for projects such as water mains and internet service. I think they’re generally building stuff up the way it’s supposed to.

THC moratorium: It was illegal for so long, we might as well take baby steps. I can see that before a whole bunch of shops show up or a whole bunch of problems show up from it.

John Hegstrom

Bio: I was elected to City Council in 2018. I previously served on the Rice Lake Planning Commission and the Joint Airport Zoning Board. I've been married for 30 years and have two children.

Biggest challenges facing Rice Lake: A large challenge that Rice Lake faces is keeping pace with the wants and needs of a growing city. As Rice Lake transitioned from a township to a city, new responsibilities and decisions concerning growth, planning and where and when to allocate the resources made available to us.

Goals if elected: My goals have always remained consistent; to help guide and manage growth, protect natural resources, work toward allowing various land uses and densities while maintaining the City's rural character and to provide economic opportunities to residents and businesses. In case that sounds familiar to Rice Lakers as coming out of the Rice Lake Comprehensive Plan, it did.

Budget: For the last fours years of my term, the mayor and City Council have focused on ensuring the city budget is responsibly managed and adequately funded.

THC moratorium: Candidate did not respond to this question.

Jayme Heim

Bio: I worked in health care for over 30 years, 20 of them being in administrative positions. I received my master’s degree in health care administration from the U of M Carlson School of Business. I am not a politician; I am an administrator with a strong background in finance, budgeting, planning and human resources.

Biggest challenges facing Rice Lake: I want to make sure that all plans to change the Rice Lake Corridor are made with the increased safety of Rice Lake Road in mind, as well as maintaining ready access to the current businesses located there (both during and after construction) and those businesses that move there in the future.

Goals if elected: I promise to continue to listen to all opinions, to continue to work toward the betterment of our community, and to be fiscally responsible with the money you entrust to us to run our city.

City budget: The council has always strived to minimize expenditures as much as possible while focusing on projects that are necessary to keep our infrastructure solid. We monitor the budget on a regular basis to make sure that we stay within budget guidelines, and we have stayed on budget every year I’ve been on the council.

THC moratorium: The 12-month moratorium was necessary. Our Legislature threw all Minnesota cities a curveball when they approved THC, but then left it to the cities to figure out what that meant. By voting to approve the moratorium, we now have time to do research and determine what the residents of Rice Lake want regarding this issue.

Pat McDonald

Bio: I graduated from Hermantown High School in spring of 1973. I then attended Lake Superior Vocational School from 1973-1974 for architectural drafting and design. My wife and I were married in 1979 and moved to Rice Lake that same year. In 1985, we started Mac’s Landscaping, in Hermantown, and have decided to retire just this year.

Biggest challenges facing Rice Lake: I think one of the issues that we are realizing is how to balance the rural residential lifestyle versus business growth. We all need commercial development to sustain our city, but we have to keep the bedroom community image for our residents.

Goals if elected: My life experiences of being a business owner can help in bringing new ideas to the council. I can help diversify with fresh ideas. By owning a business I have firsthand experience in budgeting and having financial responsibility, but yet knowing when to make that responsible investment.

Budget: At face value, I feel that the current council is being responsible. If elected I would take a fresh look at future budgets and priorities. I would ask the question why we are doing what we are doing.

THC moratorium: I agree with this decision of the council. I feel there should be more research on these products before being available to the public, especially in the form of chewables that targets our kids.

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Before posting for the position, the Wrenshall School Board is looking for community input on how the district should format its superintendent position for next year.
Gov. Tim Walz approved the relief funds Wednesday. Carlton County also received an undisclosed amount.
To submit an event to the community calendar, email news@pinejournal.com.
On Jan. 22, Ryan Manahan and his friends built the pit, which will be stored until the snow melts and then placed outside Barnum Elementary School.